Valve Drop Hints About Episode Three

By John Walker on October 14th, 2008 at 2:06 pm.

Come on, it would be awesome.

Valve never seem to take traditional routes for announcing new games. Their head of [Insert Appropriate Title Here], Doug Lombardi, likes to leak teeny bits of information to people when they’re least expecting it. To Kikizo, in an interview published last night, he dropped in something about Episode Three. Like you do. Apparently we could hear news about the game before the end of the year.

During the interview, Kikizo nonchalantly ask about the next episode, and receive a peculiarly forthcoming response.

Kikizo: When are we going to start to hear about Episode Three? Because the gaps seem to be quite long based on the first couple of episodes.

Lombardi: Yeah, the next time you play as Gordon will be longer than the distance between HL2 to Ep1, and Ep1 to Ep2.

Kikizo: Won’t you announce or show anything on Episode 3 this year?

Lombardi: We may at the very end of the year.

Those sneaky rascals. And what’s that comment about playing Gordon, eh? Might we… could it be? I haven’t a clue.

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77 Comments »

  1. parm says:

    I know where Cargo Cult lives. Maybe we could go and camp outside his house.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    That’s because we’ll be playing as Chell. Gordon will be playable only as a bonus unlockable (Gordon’s Combine Advisor Petting Zoo) which you get for completing an extended and deeply irritating rhythm game that involves shooting a stream of multicolored headcrabs that explode in musical rhythm with G-Man’s erratic diction attempting to wrestle with Girls Aloud’s greatest hits.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    Half Life 2 to Episode One was about 19 months (One to Two was around 16 months), so that’s April/May 09 at the very earliest then.

    I’d imagine they’re keeping quiet so as not to overshadow Left 4 Dead, in a similar manner to Bioware keeping schtum about Mass Effect 2 until Dragon Age is out of the door.

  4. Real Horrorshow says:

    Good. The faster Episode 3 comes out the faster they can ditch the ancient Source engine. Yeah I said it.

  5. teo says:

    I would love it if you made the picture in each summarized post link to the actual post. It’s the easiest thing to click

  6. Dogman says:

    I second that idea.

  7. John Walker says:

    The title isn’t too hard to click on. But we’ll soon be opening a summer school for improving people’s mouse orientation and click skills.

  8. Meat Circus says:

    Yes, goodness knows Valve *surely* has no further need of an engine that allows them to produce gorgeous-looking games that runs on even the most mediocre hardware.

  9. Premium User Badge

    MonkeyMonster says:

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha – ahhh thank you for that Mr Walker I almost cried and need such cheering up!
    Muchos Gracias Senor.

  10. subedii says:

    I’m pretty doubtful of a character change. I’m guessing that either Episode 3 is simply going to take a longer time to come out, or he could be hinting at a side game not in the direct continuity where there’s a different character involved.

    Who knows, guess we’ll have to wait until the end of the year, assuming he DOES announce anything.

  11. itsallcrap says:

    They’d better actually tell us WTF is going on in Ep3.

    If I’ve waited this long just to see Alyx disappear in the grasp of a load of Combine Advisors and a “to be continued” sign, I won’t be impressed.

  12. Real Horrorshow says:

    @ Meat Circus:

    You’re joking right? I know Valve are PC gaming gods and practically untouchable so we have to pretend they’re always right and true when they’re not, but besides cases where the game is stylized (TF2) or where the graphics are intentionally simplified (Portal), Source is dated as hell. Source games aren’t exactly ugly yet but it’s getting close. The visuals in Left 4 Dead are barely up to the standard of most mediocre console games.

  13. Lollerskater says:

    Episode 3: Barney finds a mute girl named Chell and together they fight the evil Combine-overlords!

  14. Spork! says:

    Meat Circus says:

    That’s because we’ll be playing as Chell. Gordon will be playable only as a bonus unlockable (Gordon’s Combine Advisor Petting Zoo) which you get for completing an extended and deeply irritating rhythm game that involves shooting a stream of multicolored headcrabs that explode in musical rhythm with G-Man’s erratic diction attempting to wrestle with Girls Aloud’s greatest hits.

    For the love of God, someone make it. You have my money.

  15. Cousin says:

    TF2 is gorgeous but the “realistic” source games look pretty (technically, not art direction) rubbish next to UE3 stuff, let alone CryEngine 2. An upgrade might not make sense from a systems requirements perspective, granted, but they’ll pretty much have to have a new engine up and running for the next console generation in 2-3 years anyway, Source really won’t cut it for that market.

  16. phuzz says:

    @teo, surely playing computery games for years has heightened you click reflexes to the point where you can hit a single pixel link? In fact, RPS is too mainstream! You should only be able to post a comment if you can find the single pixel link that’s hidden in a random place on each story!
    That would stop crap like this comment being posted for starters.

  17. A-Scale says:

    @ real horrorshow
    The Source engine is perfect and will serve for at least a few more years. It is well optimized and just realistic enough to give one that illusion of being in the game. Crap like Crysis isn’t any better of a game because of its engine, and in fact I’d argue its significantly worse. We hit the drop off point of diminishing returns as far as graphical advancements go with the Source engine. I for one applaud Valve for getting Source to sing before moving on, and for making incremental advancements with each episode. Thanks, Valve.

  18. The Hammer says:

    Worth noting too, that Crysis: Warhead had reduced system specs. Obviously Crytek caught onto the fact that people who don’t have the specs to run your game generally won’t buy it.

  19. Pace says:

    The first impression I got after reading that quote was that there would be a longer gap within the half-life timeline. I mean ep1 followed immediately after HL2, ep2 immediately followed ep1, maybe there will be a gap of some years within the game, like between HL1 & HL2.

    (parm; get some info on Minerva while you’re there, will ya? Or maybe you’ve already got some?)

  20. cyrenic says:

    @Cousin

    I thought Bioshock, particularly in things like facial animations, looked nowhere near as good as HL2: EP2.

  21. Mogs says:

    Bring back Adrian Shepherd!

  22. Meat Circus says:

    Presumably, the only non-mod Source game we’ll be seeing released in Her Majesty’s Year 2008 will be Left4Dead.

    We’ll see how ‘dated’ that looks imminently, I should expect.

  23. Maximum Fish says:

    Source is fine. So long as it’s used right (Vampire Bloodlines, Dark Messiah managed somehow not to). Episode 2 looked great, and i spent more time stopping to ‘take in sights’ in that game than any other in recent memory save Crysis and Bioshock (the former because of the amazing graphics, and let’s be fair -it kind of forced you to, and the latter because of the art design).

    Source kicks the everliving shit out of Unreal 3, which is behind like 85% of console games (arbitrary made-up statistic, for all of the bibliography nazis), and i appreciate that it does so with modest hardware requirements.

    I do think Valve has become enshrined in impervious armor of fanyboyism, but i don’t think the source engine is something you can legitimately knock them for. That’s my opinio anyways.

  24. Maximum Fish says:

    By which i mean “opinion”. What happened to the edit thing anyway?

  25. parm says:

    pace: None that isn’t already public, I’m afraid. Apparently he has a very big monitor, now, though.

  26. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    i think you should make the entire website clickable and make it direct you to specific parts of the post based on where you clicked (inversely proportional to the x coordinate multiplied by the y coordinate over 10) that way if you acidently click your mouse you’re punished with having to read the article from half way down

  27. Dr_demento says:

    Their commitment to not pushing the graphical envelope is one of the best things about Valve – odd that no-one else has realised how much it limits your potential userbase to design a game for CryEngine 2 rather than Source.

    That said, Source is starting to look a little dated, but I think Valve should try and replace it with a worth heir; pretty, yes, and with clever physics and maybe something new (euphoria? Go on, Gabe, buy them then incorporate it into Source 2 exclusively and watch Epic cry), but given their commitment to the long-term survival prospects of PC gaming they’d be making a mistake to concentrate on self-shadowing over versatility. I’m confident they’ll make the right choice.

  28. Alec Meer says:

    If people do wanna discuss changes/problems with the site tech, could y’all do it over in the relevant forum thread rather than stumble off-topic in post comments, please? Thanks, darlings.

  29. subedii says:

    I have a very hard time visualising how “crap” an engine Source is supposed to be now when I play something like Episode 2. Or Team Fortress 2. Or Portal

    Yes, I’ve played Crysis on high settings, yes it looks very good and has all the technical baubles attached. But Episode 2 also looked really good, the ant-lion caves, the open vistas with the massive portal in the background. Far more important than raw technical capability of the engine is the art style and how it’s implemented.

    Over time Source has been improving, and I’d happily say it’s got more than enough visual punch to allow the spectacular art design to come through, and that’s the most important thing. So it doesn’t use the latest DX10 volumetric shaders yet, I’m not going to complain when the engine still manages to amaze me with what it’s showing me.

  30. Bananaphone says:

    Unreal 3 is ugly as fuck. Source may be old but at least it doesn’t make everything look like it’s covered in plastic.

  31. Andrew Wills says:

    @ Real Horrorshow

    http://www.albatros44.de/nuernberg/nnf1.jpg
    http://www.interlopers.net/images/spotlight/img6_1.jpg

    That’s the sort of thing the Source engine can pull off… Easily equal to Unreal 3, Crysis etc. It’s the fastest, most versatile engine around, if (like Maximum Fish said) used correctly.

    Almost all users can play Source games, as they are so scalable, with a more than acceptable frame rate. Hence why the Steam Stats show over 100,000 people currently playing Source games/mods, and 27 people playing Unreal Tournament 3.

  32. StalinsGhost says:

    It makes sense that we’ll hear more soon to be honest. Maybe with the release of Left4Dead? I mean, after L4D, Valve wont have any officially announced games in development besides portal. I’m sure we’ll hear something soon basically.

  33. faint says:

    Andrew Willis – Look at the texturing on that lamppost in the foreground. It’s horrible. The second one doesn’t even have grass, and the tree leaves are clearly made of 2D planes.
    I think they prove the case against Source much better than arguing for it. Beside, screenies are not the point, the point is that real-time, on inexpensive hardware like a 50 quid GF8600, Source doesn’t impress compared to other stuff. It’s solid, it runs fast (which makes it ideal for multi), but it looks dated.

  34. cqdemal says:

    @ Andrew Wills

    Those shots, especially the second one, show how Source is well behind Unreal 3 and CryEngine 2 in terms of technology. Poor textures, low-polygon environments, static sprite-based vegetation, etc.

    Even the lighting, which seems to be the best element from these shots, look nowhere near what CryEngine 2 can do. Try taking a screenshot of Crysis Warhead when sunlight is shining through a break in the jungle.

    Source is a great engine with decent visual appeal and superb performance, but it’s undeniably creaking.

  35. Bursar says:

    I’d also point out that the source engine of today is not the same as it was in 2004. Ep2 looks much better than HL2 for example.

    The hardware issue is a big one. Through Steam Valve have a pretty good idea of the hardware of their userbase. It really isn’t economically viable to blow vast sums of money developing a hyper realistic engine if the only people who’ll benefit are 5% of your target audience. That way leads to bankruptcy and/or being bought by EA .

    On the other hand it also wouldn’t surprise me if Valve had some boffins working on a brand new engine which they’ll announce out of the blue when they’re good and ready!

  36. iainl says:

    Going off Man Raised by Puffins’ calculations, an announcement before the end of the year (but after Left4Dead has sold lots of copies) is about right if the game will turn up next summer.

  37. Y3k-Bug says:

    I love that all of the comparisons being used against the Source engine are with titles that are completely inferior gameplay-wise to anything Valve has ever made.

    Art direction > Game engine.

  38. JonFitt says:

    So Episode 2.5 features you playing as Judith Mossman in the frozen North!

  39. Styngent says:

    The best thing about episodic gaming is you get small yet powerful gaming experiences with little chronological distances in between.

    Wait, what i actually mean is you wait years for another slice of questionable tech demo for last years big FPS engine with insultingly small pieces of revelation drip fed to the public over months and months.

    Keep up the good work Valve!

  40. Sensitive Artist says:

    Have to agree with all of the Source apologists here. I’d much rather have a game where they spent all of their time and money on making it fun than on making my hardware cry.

    I just finished Crysis Warhead and yeah, at “gamer” or “enthusiast” settings, it looks better than Source games (though I should point out that the engine is not just textures and lighting, but physics — if you have Crysis at low settings, you get no destructible environment). It was OK, but honestly my desire to replay it compared to any of Valve’s games is about 50:1. I’d much rather have a game I want to replay immediately than one I uninstall shortly after finishing.

    The slavish devotion to “good graphics” can definitely be detrimental, and I say this as a sucker who just bought a new Radeon 4870 and who is very much in the caught up in the graphics arms race.

  41. Sensitive Artist says:

    Obviously, that ratio should be 1:50, not 50:1.

  42. tualo says:

    “all of the comparisons being used against the Source engine are with titles that are completely inferior gameplay-wise to anything Valve has ever made.”

    I think I can safely say that Bioshock is a better game than Half-Life Ricochet…
    Do people seriously believe that Valve couldn’t make a good Half-Life 3 in the Crysis engine?

  43. The Dark One says:

    @Gravatar Maximum Fish:

    About Bloodlines- they were using a pre-release version of the engine, so it’s not really fair to compare its visuals/performance to the other games. It doesn’t even use the default Source pathfinnding or lighting systems because Valve hadn’t completed them in time for Troika to use them.

  44. Maximum Fish says:

    If you watch (play?) the developer commentary stuff on the Half-Life episodes, one of the most recurring themes is how the design focused on “performance budgeting”, balancing wide-base playability with impressive visuals. Low poly environments, skyboxes, whatever, are all used to minimize the loss of fidelity and to maximize the number of people who can enjoy the game at playable framerates.

    This is not so much a strike against the engine (which has been keeping abreast of new technology fairly well, if not close to the cryengine 2 level), but more rather a trait of Valve’s design philosophy, one i happen to agree with. I’d much rather be impressed by artful and effective use of shaders and other fancy whatsihutsits and great art design than a buffet of cutting edge effects that lose novelty after 30 minutes and limit the player base to 15 people with repurposed server farms.

  45. General_Crespin says:

    Bioshock has a good art style, but up close, the textures are crap.

  46. martin says:

    It’s simple:

    Source visuals Crysis

  47. martin says:

    It’s simple:
    Source visuals Crysis

  48. martin says:

    me stupid:

    Source’s visuals are inferior tor CryEngine2′s visuals.
    Half Life 2 is a much better game than Crysis

  49. DigitalSignalX says:

    On an X-Play review of the Orange Box, they interviewed Gabe who said “The main character in Portal will play an important part in the Half-Life universe. She will have important relationships with some of the main characters in Episode 3.” Food for thought.

  50. IvanHoeHo says:

    The source engine is indeed getting old, and it is the texturing/bump mapping artists that are keeping it alive. The lack of excessive shininess also helps, of course.